On Wednesday, Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison. This sentencing comes just over two weeks after the disgraced producer was found guilty of rape in the third degree and criminal sexual assault in the first degree, and not guilty on charges of predatory sexual assault and first-degree rape. (All five charges stemmed from allegations made by two women, Miriam Haleyi and Jessica Mann.)
The guilty verdict, which the jury delivered on February 24, immediately prompted questions: How could Weinstein be guilty of rape in the third degree, but not predatory sexual assault? And what exactly are the differences between first- and third-degree rape? Below, we’ve unpacked the charges that Weinstein faced.
Rape in the third degree
Allegation from which it stemmed: Former aspiring actress Jessica Mann alleges that Weinstein raped her at a Midtown East hotel in 2013.
What does the charge mean? Under New York Penal Code, three degrees of rape exist, with first-degree being the weightiest, and third-degree being the least. In New York, a person is guilty of third-degree rape when they engage in nonconsensual sex with another person.
Criminal sexual act in the first degree
Allegations from which it stemmed: Former Project Runway assistant Miriam Haleyi alleges that Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her at his Soho apartment in 2006.
What does the charge mean? A person is guilty of a criminal sexual act in the first degree if they engage in oral or anal sex with someone who is incapable of consent, or if they use “forcible compulsion,” meaning they employed force or the threat of force to commit the crime. (Someone can also be found guilty of this crime if the victim was less than 11 years old, or if the victim was less than 13 and the actor was 18 or older.) This is a class B felony and is the most serious crime of which Weinstein was convicted.
Rape in the first degree
Allegation from which it stemmed: Mann’s aforementioned rape allegation.
Verdict: Not guilty
What does the charge mean? To convict on first-degree rape, the prosecutor must show the defendant subjected the victim to nonconsensual intercourse through forcible compulsion, or that they were “incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless.” During Weinstein’s trial, the prosecution argued that Weinstein used forcible compulsion; the defense, on the other hand, maintained that Weinstein never had nonconsensual sex with any woman.
Predatory sexual assault
Allegation from which it stemmed: Mann and Haley’s aforementioned allegations, as well as that of actress Annabella Sciorra, who testified that Weinstein raped her in late 1993.
Verdict: Not guilty
What does the charge mean? Predatory sexual assault is just one of two sex crimes classified as Class A-II felony, which is the most serious type of crime. (The other is predatory sexual assault against a child.) According to New York Penal code, a person can be found guilty of predatory sexual assault if a jury determines they have committed a first-degree rape, criminal sexual act, or aggravated sexual abuse against more than one other person.
Which is why Sciorra’s allegation factored in here. As CNN notes, had jurors found that Sciorra’s allegation constituted either a first-degree rape or criminal sexual act, then the first-degree charges stemming from Haleyi’s allegation (or Mann’s, had Weinstein been convicted of first-degree rape) would’ve constituted predatory sexual assault.
This post has been updated with information about Weinstein’s sentence.